The Tropical Andes span the northwest edge of South America. This hot spot twists through Venezuela, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. Covering 1,542,644 square kilometers, the Tropical Andes is one of the richest and most diverse regions on Earth. And only one quarter of the vegetation remains! By following along the path of the Andes Mountains, there is a great variety of terrain ranging from peaks, slopes, canyons and isolated valleys. The Tropical Andes is home to the deepest canyon in the world, the Cañón del Colca in Peru is 3,223 meters deep, altitudes can drop to 500 meters in the valleys, forests can rise higher than 4,800 meters, and grasslands reach the snow line. This has allowed fantastic distinct evolution of the wildlife. The creature we want to inform you about resides in elevations of 2,700 meters. We are going to take you into Peru, where the Yellow Tailed Woolly Monkey lives.

The Diet of the yellow- tailed woolly monkey is primarily consists of fruit but leaves, bugs and insects are also eaten. This monkey, which is considered one of the world’s rarest mammals, is both arboreal and diurnal, which means they travel via trees and ground. They have a multi- male group social system and a polygamous mating system, which means there are multiple mates for each monkey. These animals have a variety of vocal calls including a loud “puppy- like” bark, which it uses as a territorial or alarm call.

Very little is known about the ecology and behavior of the yellow-tailed woolly monkey. Results from studies in the early 1980s indicated that the sizes of its multi-male & female groups ranged from about 5 to 18 individuals. They have been seen to eat a variety of fruits, flowers, leaves, lichens, leaf bases of bromeliads, epiphyte roots and bulbs. In a recent field survey, an unusually large group of about 17- 20 monkeys was encountered in areas relatively close to agricultural plots, which may indicate that due to recent and on-going loss of habitat they are finding less suitable habitat areas. The species is highly sensitive to changes in habitat and has a hard time adapting to living in younger forests, which makes them even more vulnerable environmental impacts.

Until the 1950’s, inaccessibility to this highly wild habitat protected the yellow-tailed woolly monkey. From that year on, numerous factors played a part in making the habitat more accessible. This included the construction of new roads; habitat loss and fragmentation from agriculture, logging and cattle ranching; and subsistence hunting. The monkeys alone already existed in low quantities. Their existence alone is characterized by slow maturation, low reproductive rate, and a restricted geographic distribution.

The primary threat to the yellow-tailed monkey is fragmentation. Much clear cutting occurs in the tropical Andes. As more humans increase their productivity, so does the deforestation. Deforestation occurs in order to increase the productivity of the various types of agriculture, mainly coca cultivation, coffee cultivation, timber, mining, road construction, and cattle husbandry. Soils are commonly poor, and quickly erode, requiring even more clearance. Such destruction is often illegal and sometimes occurs in protected areas.

The Andes in general faces these threats. The region is harmed by mining, timber extraction, oil exploration, and narcotics plantations, which are all expanding due to the continual growth of many large cities in the region. Conservation work started soon after the species re-discovery in the mid 1970’s. This pioneering work by the Peruvian NGO APECO led to the creation of three protected areas, Rio Abiseo National Park, and Alto Mayo Protected Forest

Animal Info

Primate- Sg

Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund

 Biodiversity Hotspots

 Discover Peru

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4 responses »

  1. I really enjoyed this note. I think it is a good idea to focus on one species and to really show the danger it is in. I am currently working on a research regarding the tropical rain forests of Amazonia, and this topic is highly related to the readings I have been through in the last weeks. I think it is alarming that these areas of the world face such a terrible danger of extinction. The tropical Andes and Amazon rainforest are the most biodiverse spots in the world. They hold the biggest variety of species, both plans and animals. It is scientifically proven, that each 1 out of 10 species in the world can be found there. This amazing biodiversity needs to be protected, not only by local communities and NGOs, but international regulations and governments. We all become poorer in our fauna and flora diversity, when one of the species in Andes and Amazonia is in danger.

    Talking specifically about the woolly monkey, one could see how hard it is for the nature to sustain itself in the times of human development and, bigger than ever, impact on the environment. The monkey has a very hard time to adapt to the speed of changes that human population has imposed over it. Obviously, it results in such a small amount of surviving species. Such actions as deforestation has a profound impact, including destroying the area, putting toxic chemicals in water resources, soil and air. We not only take away its natural habitats, but force to adapt to new territories, new food, climate change, and daily interaction with people.

    – Kasia (Katarzyna) Dybek

  2. Dave Swanson says:

    It is alarming to see such a supremely diverse area undergoing such problems as fragmentation and soil erosion that we see in more densely populated hotspots. The tropical Andes is a wondrous region of the world and deserves greater attention.

  3. Ciera Fedock says:

    The wooly monkey is a testament to how even in such a biologically rich area like the Andes we are seeing the effects of mankind. Fragmentation is one of the problems I’ve heard less about than many of the other problems and I feel like it is something to really look into to see what other species may be currently affected by such a problem.

  4. Another interesting and unique hotspot, and one that is obviously under threat. I feel like people forget about south america a lot, and all of the treasures it holds. Besides the amazon, though, most people don’t know much about a huge portion of our globe. It’s actually horrible to see how so much of the vegetation is gone- I had to stare at that number for a little before it set in. Over half is gone and probably not replaceable to the fullest extent. How can we not see how badly we’re destroying everything? Are we that ignorant of the actions? We seem to be involved yet aside; we care but we can’t or don’t really do anything. This monkey is rare and beautiful, and all most people will ever see is this video or a picture online. That is scary. Heartbreaking. Intense. We really need to work more on conserving the little we haven’t destroyed yet.
    -Ailish Reilly

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